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410                The Loom of Language

for construction of compound tenses, we can express with 20 words
everything for which Sanskrit burdens the memory with nearly forty
times as many different vocables


Dunng the past two thousand years theie has been a universal drift
among Aryan languages towards reduction and regularization of flexion
This tendency towards economy of effort is as striking on the Eastern
front as on the Western., and in no language more than in modern
Persian and Hindustani After the Islamic conquest, Persian suffered
a heavy infiltration of Arabic words Consequently its present vocabu-
lary is as Semitic as it is indigenous Even Semitic grammatical forms
crept in, but these affect only Arabic words There can be little doubt
that the decay of Persian flexions was accelerated by the Moslem
conquest In fact, Persian and Anglo- American provide an impressive
example of parallel evolution from similar beginnings. Both have
abandoned the distinction of grammatical gender. If the sex of an
animate being is to be explicit, Persian prefixes equivalents to our words
man or woman for human beings, and male or female for non-human

Like Anglo-American, Persian has discarded the case-system In
both languages words which correspond to French or German, Latin
or Greek adjectives are invariant, as in Chinese The comparison of the
Persian adjective is quite regular To form the comparative we have
to add -tar, to form the superlative, -tann, e g boxorg (big), bozorgtar
(bigger), bozorgtann (the biggest) Persian has no distinct adverbial
form. The battery of Persian personal pronouns is even smaller than
ours, because the single u (literary) or an (colloq ) stands for he, she, it
alike The Persian verb has a present and two simple past tense-forms
(past and imperfect), with full personal endings which ordinarily do
the work of the pronoun subject, as in Spanish and Italian There is
one conjugation, and the personal endings are with one exception the
same for all three tenses Apart from the third person singular they
are like the corresponding parts of the verb to be (budan)* The present

am,      I am                       im,      we are
i,         thou art                   id,       you are
ast,      he> she; or it is         and,    they are
The present and imperfect tense-forms have the prefix mi- attached to